April 7, 1969

Jan van RiemsdykMedical Illustrator Extraordinary

Author Affiliations

From the department of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern Medical School and Passavant Memorial Hospital, Chicago.

JAMA. 1969;208(1):121-124. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03160010117015

Jan van Riemsdyk's work has been hailed as the acme of the medical illustrator's art. His unusual contributions to the development of modern obstetrics and his special relationship to American medical education set him apart from other medical artists. Hence, it is ironic that we know so little about him. He lived during the 18th century when men were prolific letter writers and chronologists, but his confreres, and particularly those most indebted to him, tell us few of the things we would like to know about him. Although he is wraith-like as a person, his work is anything but ghostly. Its impact on obstetric teaching was, in its own way, as forceful as the impact which Calcar's drawings for the De Fabrica had on the teaching of anatomy.

Riemsdyk's skillful use of perspective and his manipulation of lights and shadows strongly suggest that he was either trained by Wandelaer (who